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I know what the end of the world looks like


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33 replies to this topic

#1 of 34 Julie K

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Posted June 07 2002 - 07:29 AM

I know what the beginning of the end of the world will look like. Pick your favorite end of the world scenario: giant meteor smacking the planet, massive and unrelenting volcanic activity (like what killed 90% of all life at the end of the Permian), global thermonuclear war, an instability in the Sun's output frying one side of the planet, Cthulhu rising from R'lyeh to destroy our cities like anthills. Take your pick.

It doesn't matter. They will all begin the same way and I know what it looks like.

No one is quite at the panic stage yet. Roadways are jammed with people not knowing what do did amid countless official vehicles. News vans are there too, of course. The end of the world could hardly be without news coverage, could it? The sky is mottled various unhealthy shades, from an oppressive sickly gray to a red the color of dried blood. Dark plumes of smoke billow up to blot out the sun. A hot, burning smell is ever present and chokes the unfortunates nearby.

In other words, it's just like another massive brushfire in southern California.

I've gotten to be pretty good at knowing which ones to worry about. I work quite a ways from my house, but the big fires can be seen from a long distance. As I crest a certain hill on the drive, I can see the plume of smoke on the horizon. Astronomers in various ancient civilizations would observe the rising sun and would note when it rose over a certain feature, mountain peak or similar. They would then know it was the summer solstice and time to have a big old party and sacrifice the people they didn't like. In a similar manner, when I top that hill I know if the fire is near a location on another mountain range then I should start to worry. (I don't get either the party or the sacrifices, my tough luck.)

By the time I get off the freeway I can narrow down the location even better. I can tell if it's up the canyon from where my house is (like the one a couple of weeks ago) or in another nearby canyon (like the one currently raging out of control). With fires like these one doesn't derive comfort from how many miles the fire is or isn't away. You tend to think of how many houses are there between your house and the fire. The more houses, the safer you feel. It's not a pleasant feeling - I hate to hear of someone's house getting burned, but that's the metric one comes to use anyway.

Even when the fire is up the canyon where I live by the time I get closer to home, it is obvious that it is way farther up the canyon. Twice however, this has not happened. The direction to the fire is the same as the direction to my house. That's truly scary. One time is was a pretty big fire but it was still a housing tract, a shopping center, and a moderate sized highway away. However, the worst was ironically (and thankfully) a very small fire. I doubt it burned more than a couple hundred square yards. It was, however, right next to the tract where my home is. There is nothing quite like being stuck in traffic while seeing that a big old plume of smoke is coming from right fucking next to your house.

Fortunately, that time, there were no other fires demanding the attention of the firefighters. They were right on it and even brought in a helicopter to make water drops. It was stopped before it could become one of those 10,000 acre infernos.

But what if something like the current 24000 acre fire been raging at the same time? The fire might not have been stopped before it got a house or two, or maybe even more.

Anyway, folks, be careful this summer. The fire season is starting early and it's going to be a very bad one. The problem is not when there's just one huge fire. The problem is when there are several going at once, and that is the big fear for this year. The fear is that there will not be enough firefighters to fight all the fires. So please, don't use fireworks this July, don't leave campfires or BBQs unattended, don't throw cigs out the window, etc. etc. You know the drill.

(P.S. If anyone says their favorite end of the world scenario is a global ice age, well, just kiss my Micropterus salmoides :P) )
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#2 of 34 RobertR

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Posted June 07 2002 - 07:53 AM

Quote:
the current 24000 acre fire been raging at the same time


I got a good view of the current fire as I was flying back from Sacramento. It's easy to get an idea of the magnitude of the blaze from up there.

#3 of 34 John Spencer

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Posted June 07 2002 - 07:54 AM

Kiss your large mouth? A little personal, aren't we? Posted Image
Never heard of this. I'm a honky.

#4 of 34 MickeS

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:03 AM

Yeah, be careful!

There was a 30,000+ acre fire here that was finally contained a few days ago. The smoke was so thick, blowing down from the mountain into the city when the wind wne this way, several asthmatic people had trouble breathing. it cost more than $12 million to fight this thing, and they suspect it was started by someone who threw a cigarette butt out of their vehicle while off-roading. Posted Image

http://www.azstarnet....ERECOVERY.html

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/Mike

#5 of 34 Sam Posten

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:22 AM

Some say the world will end in ice, others in fire. From what I've tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. But I think that if I should have to perish twice, I believe that Ice is also nice, and would suffice.

Or close to that, by Robert Frost(Fire and Ice)....

I'm a volunteer fireman and have seen what fire can do, I think that most freezings are a lot less suffering (tho more prolonged) simply because of the way the body slows down to compensate for it...

Quote:
Cthulhu rising from R'lyeh to destroy our cities like anthills

Hmmm, I think thats the first time I've ever seen a female of our species reference anything Lovecraftian. Posted Image

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#6 of 34 Julie K

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:27 AM

Quote:
because of the way the body slows down to compensate for it...
From all accounts, once you get beyond a certain point it's supposed to be a pretty easy and peaceful way to go. Fire, though, has got to be one of the worst ways to die.

Quote:
Hmmm, I think thats the first time I've ever seen a female of our species reference anything Lovecraftian.

Then you've missed my countless other Lovecraftian references? I'm quite a fan of Lovecraft and the big C. Posted Image
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#7 of 34 RobertR

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:29 AM

Quote:
think thats the first time I've ever seen a female of our species reference anything Lovecraftian.


This must be the first time you've ever read a post from Julie. Posted Image

#8 of 34 Jack Briggs

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:43 AM

Um, yes: Julie is our resident H.P. Lovecraft scholar and authority. Got a Lovecraft question? Go to Ms. K.

Julie: I was thinking about you when I was watching the reports on KABC-TV Channel 7. This is in Saugus, just to the immediate north of you. Are there any precautions you can be taking? The winds have died down, I believe. And there's a marine layer coming in off the Pacific--Los Angeles is completely overcast today. How about where you are? Be careful. JB

#9 of 34 Julie K

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:51 AM

Jack,
This one started pretty close, but there was that "large number of houses" factor going on. (Unlike the previous one where there weren't so many). That doesn't make anything safe, of course, however the firefighters really do a fantastic job in trying to save homes, so the more of them between my house and the fire, the more secure I feel. In any case, between the plumes of smoke, the sky blotted out by sickly swirls of red and grey, and the falling ashes, it does really start to resemble various ways the world could end.

This fire quickly moved up San Francisquito canyon and away from any sort of threat to me. However, I'm a bit worried about the shooting range I go to. They are pretty much in the direct path. Or were. I hope they didn't get burned out.
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#10 of 34 Ron-P

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:54 AM

I remember the big Laguna Beach fire many years ago. I was standing on the roof of my parents house in HB and was able to see all the hill tops lit-up with a deep orange glow. That was spooky, almost like looking at hell from a distance.


Peace Out~Posted Image
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#11 of 34 Julie K

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:56 AM

Quote:
That was spooky, almost like looking at hell from a distance.
Just think what it's like looking at hell close up. Posted Image
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#12 of 34 Jack Briggs

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:57 AM

By the way, Julie, these are very, very nicely written posts. You are very descriptive, with a dash of the poetic. But please be careful during this conflagration. Seriously.

#13 of 34 Sam Posten

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Posted June 07 2002 - 08:58 AM

Quote:
Then you've missed my countless other Lovecraftian references? I'm quite a fan of Lovecraft and the big C

Sadly I read HTF about 1/100th of what I used to, musta missed that. =(

I'm kinda curious what HTF'ers are discussing with regards to HPL... Might have to see how good the search function is here...

(Edit) just ran the search, it's damn effective. Cool stuff, nice to know there are other HPL fans out there still.

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#14 of 34 Julie K

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Posted June 07 2002 - 09:16 AM

Sam,
There have been a couple of threads requesting info on HPL, but mostly I think it's just me tossing in references whenever I can get away with it. I'm sure everyone wishes I would just shut up about HPL. Posted Image

Jack,
Thanks for your kind words about my scribbles. I've been thinking of finally getting around to writing a little end of the world story that I've had rumbling around my head for a while. I need to do some research though and I've just been too damn lazy.

I'll try to be careful, but I must admit that I'm one of those people who stand on their roofs with a hose as the fire rushes in...
"I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my shelf."
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#15 of 34 John Thomas

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Posted June 07 2002 - 09:52 AM

Cthulu fhtagn, Cthulu fhtagn, Cthulu fhtagn...

#16 of 34 Julie K

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Posted June 07 2002 - 09:54 AM

Ia! Ia!
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#17 of 34 Danny R

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Posted June 07 2002 - 01:54 PM

I've got two favorite end of the world scenarios, one positive, the other negative. The first is a Vernor Vinge point of singularity ascension style ending, where we all just bootstrap ourselves into a new plane of existence.

The second is the same as the first, but we make a mistake at the critical moment and doom the world instead. Posted Image

---

So what order does one read Lovecraft in? I've got two books I picked up at a library fair that seem to contain short story collections, but I'd rather read his stuff in the "proper" order if there is any.

The ones I have are "The Transistion of HPL", and "The Dream Cycle of HPL". I haven't had the chance to read them yet, so should I just start with these or is another book better?

So Julie, are you a "Call of Cthullu" gamer as well?
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#18 of 34 Sarah S

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Posted June 07 2002 - 04:34 PM

Hey Julie, if you need a copy of "The King In Yellow" play signed, I know the author. Posted Image
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#19 of 34 Max Leung

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Posted June 07 2002 - 09:10 PM

Julie, that post reminded me of the big forest fire a few miles away from my home in Salmon Arm, back in 1999. It was quite an awesome sight...the glowing embers falling onto my apartment complex and the town center, and the incredible bruised-color sky...a perfect velvet and purple haze in a multihued band, with the blotted-out black sun as an exclamation mark on the sky with the beautiful Rocky mountains in the backdrop. During the day, you can sit on the shore and watch the helicopters and water-bombers refill from the lake, a few hundred meters from my home.

The end of the world would never look this good, I thought.

I wonder how many Canadian firemen and waterbomber pilots are in California at this very moment...Apparently it is common practice for the Canadian firefighters and pilots to go south to help the Americans (something they never tell you on CNN, I noticed).
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#20 of 34 Julie K

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Posted June 08 2002 - 01:24 AM

Danny,
Both collections have some very good stuff, but the best of the best is in the book you didn't get - "The Best of HP Lovecraft". I'd suggest you get that, or the annotated Penguin books - they are better and you won't have to keep leaping for the dictionary. [ You just have to love an author who uses the word 'vigintillion'. ] But don't get rid of the two books you have! 'Transition' has "At the Mountains of Madness" which is a must read. In fact, go read it now. It belongs with the best of the best. But you really need a collection that contains 'Call of Cthulhu', 'Whisperer in Darkness', 'Shadow Over Innsmouth' and 'The Colour Out of Space'.

The 'Dream Cycle' stories are rather different than the 'Mythos' type stories. I'd wait a bit on most of those, with perhaps a couple of exceptions. The main one being "The Cats of Ulthar" - I love that one Posted Image [ Jack, you should read this one too. ]

Otherwise, there really is no real order in which to read the stories. I'd suggest starting with the best, but other than that there is no real order.

And, in a revelation sure to shock the world, no, I've never played the game.

Sarah,
I wish to hang on to whatever remaining shreds of sanity I have, so I'll just pass on your offer Posted Image

Max,
I've seen various units from all over, but have never seen Canadian firefighters. Do you think they get this far south or help out more with the fires in northern California? In any case, I have to agree it's not at all nice that they don't get any recognition.
"I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my shelf."
"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."


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